In an opinion piece for the Louisville Courier-Journal, April 29, 2021, right before the Kentucky Derby, Mitch McConnell and Andy Barr patted themselves generously on the back regarding the passage of the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act (“Act”), a bi-partisan bill made law on December 27, 2020.
The Act establishes the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority as a “private, independent, self-regulatory, nonprofit corporation” to develop and implement a horseracing program for medication control and racetrack safety for covered horses, persons, and horse races, with oversight concerning certain enumerated issues by the Federal Trade Commission.
These statements from the opinion piece caught our attention:
“As the Authority begins to take shape over the coming months, its members can start designing practices and standards for tracks across the country. Of course, there’s still more to do as we strengthen thoroughbred racing’s future. But solidifying its rules under an independent and transparent regulatory body puts its traditions on the inside track. We’re proud our bill will help fans enjoy safe and fair racing for generations to come.”
Interesting statements to make on April 29 when two lawsuits opposing the Authority were filed on March 15 and April 26, respectively. Perhaps McConnell and Barr expect it will all come to nothing.
About the Lawsuits
On April 26, the states of Oklahoma and West Virginia, along with their respective Racing Commissions, the United States Trotting Association, the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association, a horse farm, and several organizations operating racing facilities, filed suit in federal court against the United States, the Authority, the Federal Trade Commission, and certain of their officials. The complaint alleges six counts of constitutional violations, including the non-delegation doctrine, separation of powers, and the Fifth and Tenth Amendments.
The above lawsuit joins another filed on March 15 by the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and several of its state affiliates (Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, Louisiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia). This complaint alleges four counts of constitutional violations, including the Fifth Amendment.
Eric Hamelback, the CEO of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (HBPA), told Thoroughbred Daily News, when the legislation was announced, that “Senator McConnell claims to have found compromise within the industry, yet no representative horsemen’s groups, horseplayers or veterinary leadership organizations seem to have been consulted in the collaboration.”